Introducing the VRM ListenLog

The following is a basic description for a proposed approach to integrating VRM into an existing software application. I welcome your input on this emerging idea in the comments section here or follow the evolution on the Project VRM Wiki.

Update (5/19) - Audio slideshow and presentation video on ListenLog now posted.

The VRM ListenLog is a proposed method for integrating simple user-driven functionality into an online audio player device or application. The ListenLog concept was devised in part for the Public Radio Tuner iPhone project, where it will likely be first introduced. The ListenLog is a consolidated and documented history of an individual's online listening activity. It is simply a recorded activity log, in a standard and open format, documenting an individual's listening actions through one (or more) online devices. The ListenLog is unique in that its aim is to give the user complete control over what to do with their listener activity data, including where the data lives, who to share it with, and how it can be used.

While tracking listener behavior is not a new concept, the ListenLog is a novel user-driven approach to deploying early VRM functionality. While a simple activity log might not be the killer app, it succeeds by putting in place a small piece of user-driven infrastructure into a larger application - one with a promise of relatively wide distribution. Since this infrastructure component will write, store, and share listener activity in an open and standard format, we hope that such a log will become significantly more useful as other devices and tools leverage the standard to increase what an individual can do with their ListenLog data. This type of sideways approach holds the promise of planting the seeds of VRM onto lots of devices without requiring the primary application functionality (i.e. audio listening) be purely user-driven.

A user-driven activity log works well for an application that pulls together audio streams and files from a number of different sources. Of course, online audio providers (vendors in the VRM model) can already track and aggregate listening behavior data, but only for the audio they control. When the user acts as the sole point of integration, pulling together audio from multiple sources, their own consolidated log becomes unique and powerful. Only when the listener is the point of integration does such an approach yield unique value.

Here is a working document of some emerging ListenLog Specifics as we flesh them out.

Public Radio Tuner iPhone Application
A collaborative effort that launched a single, free Public Radio iPhone application to support radio streams and on-demand public radio program content from all public radio networks (NPR, PRI, APM, and PRX). The application builds upon APM's Public Radio Tuner application, and the 1.1 release available on 1/6/2009 incorporates over 200 public radio station streams from around the US, a GPS-enabled local stream finder, and station search functionality. We hope to have ListenLog functionality incorporated in V 2.x.